The Long Way Home 7.7.23

 Here it is, 24 hours before the deadline for this column, and I’m setting aside the one nearly completed to bare a bit of my soul with this.

I have a Facebook habit that rivals the one with pipe tobacco. So this morning, July 3, I was doing my routine browsing through what the Meta monster’s algorithms thought I should see. Up popped a video of recent American Idol winner Iam Tongi performing with singer/songwriter James Blunt. The song, “Monsters,” was written by Blunt, and Tongi performed it in his Idol audition. Blunt wrote this haunting song after being at the bedside of his dad who was near death (spoiler alert, he survived but that outcome wasn’t clear at the time.)

If you’ve never heard it, it is quite a tear jerker. The chorus:

I’m not your son, you're not my father

We’re just two grown men saying goodbye

No need to forgive, no need to forget

I know your mistakes and you know mine

I’ve listened to this song several times since young Iam’s audition. He dedicated the song to his recently deceased father and the judges on the show were moved to tears. I usually mist up each time too, but it’s been many weeks since I’ve listened to it. 

So why did it pop up on my phone today? 

I’ve been thinking a great deal about my dad the last week or so as I’ve been preparing a blog post for a client about parent/child fishing. My dad was my first and favorite fishing buddy and some of the experiences we had back then fit perfectly with the theme of this post. 

But it was only after hearing the song this morning, when I had the dogs outside for a morning constitutional, that I remembered that today, July 3, is my dad’s 101st birthday. It’s also the day we buried him 28 years ago.

I confess I was thunderstruck and broke down crying out there on our “old road.” I agitated the dogs a bit and I wasn’t able to tell the Bohunk about all this without blubbering.

My dad struggled his last few years with the devil emphysema. He was tethered to an oxygen machine that sat in the living room of their house for three years. When he left the house it was with a green tank full of oxygen on a two wheel cart attached to his nasal cannula. 

Hearing “Monsters” today brought back with surprising force Dad’s last days at Fairview Southdale Hospital. His doctor told us they’d tried taking him off the ventilator several times to get him breathing on his own, without success. 

Since Fats would never breathe freely again, and with his advance directive in hand, we made the gut wrenching decision as a family to end all aggressive care. With the ventilator shut off, it wasn’t long until he died. We were all with him then.

And while you're sleeping I'll try to make you proud

So, daddy, won't you just close your eyes?

Don't be afraid, it's my turn

To chase the monsters away

Becky, being of Bohemian and Catholic descent, firmly believes in the afterlife and the occa
sional parting of the veil. She’s wondering what sign I might get from my mother on Friday, which, had she lived, would be her 96th birthday.

I just hope they’ve seen the monsters I’ve chased away, and that they’re proud.